Thursday, August 15, 2013

Living By Grace: Part I

By Kristen Leigh Evensen
Four incredible weeks.
In the extent of a month, my heart and mind were reawakened to the reality, the blessed gift, of God's grace. How easily I forget--and I suspect that maybe you do, too--the wonder of grace. I am newly refreshed by the humble reminder that God has saved me through Christ, not by anything that I have accomplished or performed or convinced Him of, but all because He freely wanted to.

Grace is amazing. Have you forgotten?

I took part in a four-week study at my church in the book of Titus. We looked at the gospel, God's grace, and what it looks like to live in the reality of these truths. When I entered the building on the first night, my spiritual stomach was growling in hunger for a renewed sense of God's grace. I wanted to let down my walls and bask in it, to know again the joy of my salvation and allow it to compel my every thought, word and action. I wanted to stop striving, and start trusting grace.

And four weeks later, I feel I cannot begin to recount the depths of the truths that God has revealed in His Word about Himself. I am still digesting. But I would like to share these insights with you because they are too rich to keep to myself! Grace is our blessed reality as women in Christ:

11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. (Titus 2)

Insight #1: Submission to Christ is key to living by grace.

Let's lay it all out on the table right now: "Submission" does not always have a good rapport. Why? It is misunderstood, misinterpreted and misused. Even by some Christians, unfortunately. The clarification of this biblical term was immensely helpful to me, and I hope it will have the same effect on you.

Submission finds it root in Christ. Christ submitted (willingly so) to the Father's will. He submitted to the cross, where He died for your sin and my sin. God's grace is made possible by Christ's humble submission; therefore, submission to Christ, Himself, is key to living by His grace.

If I am fighting, fighting, fighting the Lord and working to make Him love me, then I am denying the work of the cross and belittling what Jesus did for my sake. 

Grace is therefore believed in vain. 

Its purpose is lost in my proud, controlling need to be my own savior. Instead of submitting to Christ's lordship over my life, I am striving. Instead of becoming more Christlike, I am becoming increasingly self-absorbed, worried about my value in God's sight, and exhausted from trying so hard.

Not so with submission. Submission to Christ is key to living by grace.

Living in submission to Christ's lordship means acknowledging that our lives are truly no longer our own, offering them up to God's perfect, best purposes and will. Submission to Christ ushers us to live by His grace because it strips us of any attempts to save ourselves or accomplish our own purposes.

Submission says, "Yes, Lord, You are in control of my life and I trust that Your grace is sufficient for me. I will therefore rest in my identity as your adopted daughter and trust the work of the Spirit in my life. I will walk by faith."

When we realize the extent of what Christ did for us on the cross, why would we not submit to His sovereign lordship? There is nowhere else I would rather be than sitting humbly at His feet, basking in His glorious grace, arms wide in worship and life surrendered to Him.

Almighty Infinite Father, Your grace is sufficient for us, for Your power is made perfect in our weakness. We rest in the work of the cross, knowing that Christ paid it all for our sake. Teach us to submit to You through Christ's humble, obedient example. Dwell in us, walk with us, and be glorified in us. 

Amen.

What about you? What would it look like to live totally submitted to Christ's lordship, saying "Yes" to His grace?

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